Susan Sellers’ novel Firebird: a Bloomsbury love story is inspired by the life of the dancer Lydia Lopokova and her love affair, and eventual marriage, with the economist John Maynard Keynes.  One of the problems for the novelist telling a true story is that at any point the reader is likely to know what happens next, yet Sellers’ compelling narrative creates suspense both through the immediacy of her writing  (she largely uses the present tense) and by shifting the gaze from one character to another to give alternative points of view.

Lopokova and Keynes were from completely different backgrounds.  She came from St Petersburg and was trained at the Imperial Ballet School, he was educated at Eton and Kings College Cambridge, and the general consensus among his friends in the Bloomsbury Group was that they were ill-matched.  Interestingly, in Sellers’ account, they are both to some extent outsiders among these people, who consider their table manners uncouth, and look down them for their willingness to work for a wage, albeit in very different fields.